Mount Kilimanjaro lies within the 756 SQKM Kilimanjaro National Park. This is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the few places on earth that encompasses every ecological vegetation zones that includes tropical jungle, savannah, and desert to montane forests, subalpine plants, and the alpine zone above timberline.
The term ‘Kilimanjaro’ is thought to be a combination of the Swahili word ‘Kilima’, which means mountain and the local Chagga word ‘Njaro’ that can be loosely translated to whiteness. This gives the Mount Kilimanjaro the name White Mountain. Kibo on the other hand in Chagga means “spotted” and gives reference to rocks seen on snowfields while the highest point is called ‘Uhuru’ a Swahili word that means freedom.
But Did You Know That…
Mount Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa hence the ‘roof of Africa’ tag?
- Mount Kilimanjaro is the fourth highest of the world’s Seven Summits
- Mount Kilimanjaro is the tallest freestanding mountain in the world, rising 15,100 feet (4,600 meters) from base to summit.
Kilimanjaro is a giant strato-volcano whose formation began a million years ago after lava spilled from deep down the core of the Earth to the the Rift Valley zone. The mountain was built through successive lava flows. Two of Mount Kilimanjaro’s three peaks—Mawenzi and Shira are extinct while Kibo, the highest peak is dormant but can erupt again. It is believed that the last major eruption was 360,000 years ago though there has been some as recent as 200 years ago.
There are three distinct volcanic cones that make the Kilimanjaro. These cones are
- Kibo 19,340 feet (5,895 meters) that has Uhuru peak at its crater rim
- Mawenzi 16,896 feet (5,149 meters)
- Shira 13,000 feet (3,962 meters).
Kilimanjaro’s Receding White Crown
Mount Kilimanjaro has 2.2 square kilometers of glacial ice which is quickly melting away as a result of global warming. There has been an 82% shrinking of the glacier on Mt Kilimanjaro’s top since 1912 of which 33% has been from 1989. It is believed that Mt Kilimanjaro might be ice free by 2050 if the trend continues and this will dramatically affect the lifestyle of the locals as they depend on Kili for more than just tourist revenues.
Kilimanjaro Facts You Never Knew
- The first Mount Kilimanjaro climb to be recorded was on October 5, 1889 by a German geologist Hans Meyer.
Hans Meyer was accompanied by a Marangu scout Yoanas Kinyala Lauwo, and Austrian Ludwig Purtscheller. Meyer later wrote that on reaching the summit that they gave ‘three ringing cheers’, and in virtue of his right as the ‘first discoverer’ christened this hitherto unknown—the loftiest spot in Africa and the German Empire ‘Kaiser Wilhelm’s Peak’.
- The fastest verified ascent was done by the Italian Bruno Brunod in 2001.
Bruno climbed Mount Kilimanjaro from Marangu gate to Uhuru Peak in 5 hours, 38 minutes, and 40 seconds.
- The fastest round-trip time up Mount Kilimanjaro was by local guide Simon Mtuy
Simon ran up and down this gigantic natural feature on December 26, 2004 in 8 hours and 27 minutes.
- 7 years old Aaryan Balaji from India became the youngest mountaineer to conquer Mt Kilimanjaro on February 25, 2013. However, On 22 October 2018 Coaltan Tanner, from Albuquerque, New Mexico, reached the summit of Kilimanjaro aged just 6 years, 1 month and 4 days.
The young climber defied his age to display his adaptability to the highest standard of physical fitness, moral and mental strength, determination, courage, endurance and a never die spirit and above all perfect team work to have his legs carry him up the Kilimanjaro.